People are passionate about their potato salad. Everybody claims they have the “best” recipe – either their own, or their mom’s, or their grandma’s, or what have you. Individual potato salads are subject to strict critique by the consumers. They might say outright, “This is good, but it’s not as good as such-and-so’s,” or they admit, “This is the best darned potato salad I ever did eat!” Or they internally scrutinize and judge and analyze just what might that secret ingredient be that they detect.
If you make a good one, you know it because it’s requested for every family dinner and every potluck, and it disappears quickly. If you make a bad one, you know it because you have leftovers when the day is done.
My childhood summers featured this dish very prominantly. My grandmother would make a batch just about every week, and I have to tell you (get ready), it IS the best recipe and IS the best potato salad you’re ever going to eat. And it took me a long time to perfect it. You see, this recipe had no measurements. Just a list of ingredients whose amounts you would add and adjust and taste and assess throughout the process of making the potato salad. I don’t know how Grandma made it EXACTLY the same every time, but she did.
I made a batch tonight, and as I went along I tried to note just how much of each ingredient I used. I probably don’t have it exactly right here, but I’m taking a shot at it. Your experience and preference may vary, so feel free to adjust the amounts toward your preference. Like a “yellower” potato salad? Add more mustard! Like it a little dryer? Add less mayo! Like it a bit more tangy? Add more vinegar!
You catch my drift. Okay, here goes!
Grandma’s Triple Top-Secret Potato Salad – Revealed!
– 5 lbs yellow or golden potatoes
– 4 stalks celery
– 1/2 of a medium sweet onion
– 5 eggs
– 2/3 of a 32 oz jar of mayo… what is that, about 21 oz? Almost three cups? Let’s just say three cups – we like our potato salad “wet”. (Yes dears, that’s what I said… THREE CUPS OF MAYO. What, you didn’t come here for HEALTHY food, did you?)
– 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
– 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
– 3 heaping tbsp sweet pickle relish
– 3 heaping tbsp yellow mustard
– 2 tbsp sugar
– 1 tbsp onion powder
– salt and pepper to taste (the potatoes absorb the salt, so don’t be shy with it!)
Peel all the potatoes, cut them in half, and place in a large pot. Cover with water about 2″ above the potatoes, splash in a bit of vegetable oil, and throw in a couple of tablespoons of salt. Boil until fork-tender but not falling apart, about 20 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes. Drain and allow to cool.
While the potatoes are boiling, hard-boil the eggs (I keep them at a rolling boil for fifteen minutes). Drain and allow to cool.
While you’re waiting for the potatoes and eggs to cool, chop the celery and the onion and place them in a very large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayo, oil, vinegar, relish, mustard, sugar, onion powder, salt and pepper.
When the potatoes and eggs are cool, roughly chop them (about 3/4 inch pieces for the taters, smaller for the eggs), and add to the bowl with the celery and onion. Pour the dressing over the vegetables, and gently fold to incorporate without mushing up the potatoes. Pour from mixing bowl into a large serving dish. Cover and chill for at least 8 hours, or overnight. Makes at least 6-8 servings.
You will die of the taste sensation, I guar-an-tee.